Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Colourful women's NPL begins in style at Bay Oval

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STRAIGHT BAT: Sam Curtis batting for Sonic against Galaxy in the opening match of the new women's cricket NPL played at Bay Oval. Photo: George Novak
STRAIGHT BAT: Sam Curtis batting for Sonic against Galaxy in the opening match of the new women's cricket NPL played at Bay Oval. Photo: George Novak

A brave new world for women's cricket made a colourful beginning at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval on Sunday.

The opening round of the SkyCity Hamilton Northern Premier League (NPL) saw non-regional teams with the exotic sounding names of Power, Sonic, Velocity and Galaxy in action.

They were dressed in coloured uniforms so bright they would have been easily noticed by passengers in the Air New Zealand flight that cruised past as the first ball was bowled.

The new NPL initiative is the brainchild of Northern Districts cricket and has attracted 11 current or former White Ferns players.

Northern Districts chief executive Peter Roach is rightly proud to see the NPL under way.

"A surprising amount of work goes in to putting four teams on the park in different uniforms in different teams.

We are proud of where we have got to and hopefully our current players and future players are equally excited.

"We think this is terrifically important or we wouldn't have pursued it. We just didn't have a functioning competition that served the purpose for the benefit of our players.

"We wanted something that challenged them and made them better. One aspect was to create a cricket competition that was worthwhile but also engages both them and the next generation to aspire to with the colour and vibrancy we see today."

The NPL will be played over six rounds during the cricket season with the final games set down for February.

Most of the players are from the Northern Districts region but such was the genuine excitement shown by players from throughout the country that every major association is represented within the four teams.

"Our priority will always be the ND players that are good enough to play. That's what it is here for but we do love the fact we have got people wanting to play in this competition," Roach said.

One of the current White Ferns players in action at Bay Oval yesterday was Tauranga solicitor Sam Curtis, fresh back from a successful trip to South Africa.

"It is great to be able to play at Bay Oval and seeing all the coloured uniforms - it looks really good and is a great initiative," she said.

Curtis and some of the other White Ferns ran a clinic for 20 schoolgirls before yesterday's play began.

"A few of us came at 10 o'clock and did some coaching and ran a clinic for the girls which was awesome. Hopefully it will inspire them to want to play."

The South African series was a triumph for the White Ferns and personally enriching for Curtis who played well and has been selected in the squad to play Pakistan in five ODIs and a Twenty20 international this month.

"Yes, it was really pleasing to play in the series - we won 5-2 and I batted in the middle order. I actually found how nice it is to go out in the middle when the ball was not swinging and cutting so much anymore.

"I had a few good starts and kicked on in one of the innings which I was happy about and ended with a not out so it was good to contribute to a successful series."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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